Dysprosium gets its name from the Greek element dysprositos, meaning ‘hard to get’. This is because like most lanthanoids, or rare earth elements, it is found in a mineral deposit tightly bound to various other lanthanoids.
Dysprosium (chemical symbol Dy and atomic number 66) is very reactive, and as a pure metal it reacts with both air and water.
It only has a few commercial uses, the main one being as a magnet in the drive motor of electric cars. The problem, as Professor Allan Blackman from AUT, explains is that there is not enough dysprosium to service the rapidly growing electric car market.
The Elemental podcast is celebrating 150 years since the periodic table was first published by Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev.
Find out more about events during the United Nation’s International Year of the Periodic Table.
Nights with Bryan Crump is also celebrating the chemical elements during their Friday night Sonic Tonic and Element of the Week.
Professor Allan Blackman is at Auckland University of Technology.